How to get support at home and work if you have a disability

The term disability covers a wide range of conditions and can affect people from all walks of life. For example, some people might have a learning disability, while others might suffer with a hearing or visual impediment. Some might struggle psychologically, and others might suffer from a neurological disorder, or spinal cord injury that affects their mobility.

Living with a disability can often mean that you need to make some adjustments to your life. Some people might benefit from home adaptations or assistive technology, some might require financial help, while others might simply like some help using their computer or other devices.

Everyone’s experience will be different and there isn’t a one size fits all formula; what works well for one person might not be right for you. But, with such an extensive range of support services available these days, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to find exactly what you need to help you lead a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

Here, we’ll explore some of the main areas you can seek support at home and at work if you’re disabled. From home adaptations, through to career advice and adjusting your working environment, we hope you find it useful.

How to get support at home if you have a disability

If you require practical help and support due to long-term illness, disability, or age, you can seek help from social care services. This help and support can include:

  • Live-in care services
  • Practical help at home with activities such as shopping and cleaning
  • Accommodation
  • Meals on wheels
  • Day centres
  • Adaptations to your home
  • Counselling

These care services will be provided by your local authority. In England, the relevant law on social care is laid out in the Care Act 2014, and in Wales it’s the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. These set out the duty of local authorities to assess people’s needs, and eligibility for care and support. You can find out how to get in touch with your local authority via the GOV.UK website here.

If you’re eligible for care and support, your local authority might provide the support service itself, or they may commission private companies to deliver them instead. In other cases, they might also send you direct payments so you can purchase support services yourself.

How can I get assessed for adult social care services?

To determine your eligibility for adult social care services, you’ll need to have a social care needs assessment, which will be carried out by your local authority. To arrange this, you should contact the social services department at your local council. You can either call them directly, or apply for a needs assessment online if you’d prefer.

A social worker from your local council, or an occupational therapist, will then visit you at home to assess your needs. They will ask you what you struggle with, and how you manage everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, and getting dressed. Based on their findings, they’ll recommend any care services they believe could benefit you. Remember, this is your chance to have your say as well, so it’s important to be honest about what you struggle with, no matter how small you might think something is. Don’t play down your needs because this could influence the level of care recommended for you. If you’re nervous about a needs assessment and would like an idea of what to expect, you might like to read this guide on how to prepare for a needs assessment from Age UK.

Usually, you’ll receive the results of your needs assessment within one week. The results will identify what support and care could benefit you, for example having a paid carer to help with everyday tasks, or having meals delivered to you at home (meals on wheels).

If you’re told that you don’t require any additional care or support, your local council should still offer you free advice about where you can seek help within your community. Alternatively, if you disagree with the outcome of your needs assessment, then you are entitled to file a formal complaint. The first step is to complain to your local council, who should have a formal complaints procedure. If however, you’re still not satisfied, you can take your complaint to the local government and social care ombudsman. An ombudsman is an official appointed to investigate complaints about an organisation or authority. You can read more about how to challenge your local authority over your care here.

Will I need to pay for my care?

Generally speaking, you’ll be expected to contribute towards the cost of your social care. If your needs assessment identifies that you need care or support, then you will also have a financial assessment – also known as a means test – carried out by a Financial Assessment Officer from your council to determine whether the council will contribute towards your care. There’s no need to worry about booking a financial assessment as this will be arranged for you by your local authority.

During a financial assessment, a Financial Assessment Officer from your local council will ask you about things like your income, your pension, and any savings, property, or benefits you have. Ultimately, the more money you have, the more you’ll be expected to contribute towards your care.

If you’d like to read more about financial assessments and how to prepare, you might find this article from the NHS useful.

How to get access to home adaptations, and assistive equipment and technology if you have a disability

If you have a disability that makes everyday tasks difficult to manage, you might like to adapt your home or install specialist equipment. If your condition makes it difficult to carry out tasks like answering the door or using kitchen equipment – or if you find moving in and around the house challenging – then there are options that might make things a little easier and help you maintain your independence. For example, adaptations such as stairlifts or bannisters can benefit those who struggle to move up and down the stairs, and assistive technology like Environmental Control Devices can allow people with disabilities to remotely control electronic appliances such as heaters, air conditioning, and lights.

Deciding what home adaptations and assistive equipment you need

There are numerous things to consider before getting home adaptations or assistive equipment. Firstly, it’s important to think about exactly what it is you struggle with, and which tasks you find difficult, to get a clear idea of your needs. It’s important to be specific here. For example, if you struggle to answer the door, which part of the task do you find difficult? Perhaps you struggle to hear the doorbell ring, or maybe it’s mobility issues that make it harder for you to get to the door. Asking yourself these questions can help give you a clearer idea of what assistive equipment and home adaptations you might need.

Getting home adaptations and assistive equipment through your local authority

If having home adaptations would help you or someone you live with to live more independently, then you should contact the social services department of your local council and request a free home assessment. You can either call your local council directly, or apply for a home assessment online through the Government website.

An occupational therapist will then visit you at home and assess your needs. They’ll ask you questions and move around your house with you to get a better understanding of what you struggle with. Again, as with a social care needs assessment, it’s key that you share everything you struggle with, no matter how small.

If you feel nervous about the idea of a home assessment, then you might like to have a friend or family member there with you. Alternatively, if this isn’t possible, you could have an advocate instead. Advocates are people who can sit with you (free of charge) throughout your assessment, help you fill in forms, and speak on your behalf. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can find an advocate in your local area through the NHS website here.

Based on the findings of your assessment, you’ll then be recommended home adaptations or assistive equipment most suited to your needs.

Will I need to pay for home adaptations and assistive equipment?

As with social care needs assessments, your local council will carry out a financial assessment to determine whether or not you are able to contribute towards the costs of your home adaptations or assistive equipment.

The council has a duty to provide any equipment or adaptations costing less than £1000 for free; usually, this covers adaptations such as handrails, outside lights, and concrete ramps or steps. Similarly, the council must not charge for any intermediate care required for up to six weeks after someone leaves hospital. However, don’t worry if you need ongoing care, or more expensive home adaptations, because there are various ways that you can get help with costs, for example through Home Improvement Agencies, Disabled Facilities Grants, and organisations like Independence at Home.

If you’re not satisfied with the outcome of your home assessment, then you can make a complaint. Firstly, you should contact your local council, where there should be a formal complaints procedure. However, if you’re still not satisfied, then you can contact the local government and social care ombudsman. An ombudsman is an official appointed to investigate complaints about an organisation or authority.

If after your home assessment, your council decides that you don’t have eligible needs, they won’t supply you with any equipment or adaptations. However, they must still offer you free information and advice, which might include guidance as to where you can buy equipment yourself. If you find yourself in this position and are worried about funding, then you might like to read our section on financial support, as many people in this position who require help with care will be entitled to a disability benefit.

Please note…

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic the government has introduced new legislation which gives local councils the power to not meet all of their social care duties. Of course, this power only applies when absolutely necessary, for example, due to high service demand, or a reduced workforce. However, it does mean that if your council is using this legislation, only people with the most urgent needs might be assessed. If you’d like to read more about these changes, you can visit the Independent Age website.

Where can I buy disability equipment?

If you’re thinking about investing in disability equipment yourself, it’s important to take advantage of all the information available before coming to a decision, as whether big or small, these can be expensive purchases. Below is a list of some resources you might find useful in helping you decide which equipment you’d like and where to get it from:

  • On UK charity Scope’s website, you’ll find this useful guide about buying disability equipment and assistive technology; including where you can find trusted product reviews, and what questions to consider before you buy.

  • Independent Living is a website that provides impartial information about products and services that assist with mobility and independence. You can also sign up to Independent Living’s weekly newsletter where you can have the latest news about independent living – including legislative changes and product developments – sent straight to your inbox.

  • Living Made Easy  is another website that provides impartial advice and information about independent living equipment. The website has lists of assistive equipment available to purchase from national retailers and is backed up by expert advice from occupational therapists and other expert health and social care practitioners. Here, you’ll also find the AskSARA resource, which offers impartial information about disability equipment. It allows you to select a specific area that you struggle with – for example staying active, your hearing, or your memory (there are 90 to choose from) – and then, once you’ve answered some questions about your situation, you’ll be provided with information and advice about equipment suitable for you.

  • The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers investigates and publishes reports on equipment and services used by disabled people. These reports cover various aspects of everyday life and are free and available to read on their website.

  • If you’re seeking assistive equipment for specific needs then you might like to consider organisations that specialise in specific disabilities. For example, the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf will be able to offer those with sight or hearing loss more specific advice.

  • If you’re struggling to find equipment suitable for your particular needs, charities like Remap might be able to help. Remap designs and creates custom-made equipment to help disabled people live more independently. They cover areas including mobility, help both at home and with personal care, as well as helping people enjoy sports and other activities. Remap’s work is carried out by expert engineers, carpenters, technicians, and occupational therapists – and they’ve so far helped so many people. If you’re interested in Remap’s services, you can read more about how to get help from Remap here.

  • Disabled Living Centres (DLCs) – otherwise called Independent Living Centres – are places you can get free and unbiased advice about disability equipment and aids. At these centres there are permanent exhibitions where you can browse and test products and explore your options with the help of advice from professional staff. You can use this link to find a DLC near you.

  • If you think you’d like to buy a product but are unsure where you should get it from, then you might find this list of independent living retailers useful. You’ll find everything from mobility specialists, to personal alarms and telecare. We know that the sheer amount of retailers on the market these days can be daunting, and if you’re still seeking further advice on where to get equipment, you might find the Disability Living Foundation website useful, as it allows you to compare products and prices.

Remember, wherever possible, you should try and test equipment before buying it, to see if it’s what you were looking for. You can find more information about trying out disability equipment and assistive technology here. It’s also important to think about the long-term suitability of the product. For example, if you have a condition that’s likely to change over the years, it’s a good idea to look ahead and think about whether the product you’re investing in will be able to cater to your needs now, as well as in the future. If you’d like a second opinion on this issue or would like to discuss it further, an occupational therapist or physiotherapist will be able to assist you. If you’re still seeking further information, you can read more about shopping around for disability aids and equipment here.

Lastly, don’t forget that if you have a long-term illness or you’re disabled, you don’t have to pay VAT on equipment designed to assist daily life. To claim this benefit, the product supplier must be registered for VAT, and you will need to sign a declaration of your long-term illness or disability. You can find out more information on VAT relief for those with disabilities on the GOV.UK website.  

Hiring or loaning equipment

If you’d like to test a piece of equipment out before you buy it, or if you only require it short-term, you might like to consider hiring it instead.

Where you can hire disability equipment from will vary from area to area due to local suppliers.  So, a good place to start can be searching online for ‘local disability equipment suppliers’, or ‘specialist disability equipment hire near me’.

Another good option is to check out Mobility Hire, who supply a range of mobility equipment on short and long-term loans nationwide. You might also be able to borrow wheelchairs and other equipment on a temporary basis from your local Red Cross in exchange for a donation, or a small fee. However, it’s important to note that stock is limited.

Technological support at home if you have a disability

More and more services are now delivered online, and the majority of us now use technological devices everyday. However, if you have a disability, you might find computers, iPads, and other technological equipment difficult to use. If technology is something you struggle with, you might be interested in some of the technological support services below:

  • The Disability Information Bureau helps disabled people find ways to adapt their computer and make it easier to use. It offers individual assessments that help identify computer equipment and adaptations tailored to your needs, and they can also advise you on where to buy it. Examples of adaptive computer technology include keyboards with keys four times larger than a standard keyboard, which can help those with visual impairments, or anyone who requires larger surface areas, to be able to touch the keys. If you’re interested in this service, you can find out how to book an assessment here.

  • Get Online At Home provides refurbished desktop, laptop, and tablet internet-ready computers at a lower price. If you have a disability, you’re likely to be eligible for this service. Computers are sent with a set-up package, and with resources you can rely on for ongoing support. You can find more information about what you’ll be able to do with your computer here, and about what you’ll receive and how to make an order here.

  • Computers For The Disabled works to help provide disabled and elderly people with second-hand laptops, iPads, and phones. The devices they supply are all reconditioned using new and second-hand parts. Computers For The Disabled also offer free advice on which computers to buy, what to avoid, and where to buy them. If you’d like to see if Computers For the Disabled can help you, you can get in touch via email or telephone.

  • UK charity AbilityNet works to ensure that individuals of all abilities can access technological devices to achieve their goals. AbilityNet has worked hard to make sure their services are still available throughout the pandemic, and the majority are now available online.

If you’re looking for some help with your devices, you might be interested in AbilityNet’s ITCanHelp service which provides free IT support to older people, and people with disabilities anywhere in the UK. Whatever you’d like help with – whether it’s understanding IT software, learning to use an iPad, or setting up new equipment and using technology to keep in touch with friends – the ITCanHelp service is flexible and can cater to your particular digital needs. While volunteers are currently unable to carry out home visits, AbilityNet’s team of tech experts are working hard to support people remotely. You can read more about AbilityNet’s coronavirus response here. And, if you’re interested in the ITCanHelp service, you can request help via AbilityNet’s website, by calling their helpline, or sending an email.

AbilityNet’s work has been transformational and they’ve helped so many people, which you can find out more about by watching Maggie’s personal story in this video.

How to get support at work if you have a disability

If you have a disability, then you may be worried that it could impact your work prospects, or that you might not be able to find work. Similarly, if you’re already employed but are struggling, it might feel difficult to ask for help. But this shouldn’t be the case. There’s a lot of advice, support, and initiatives to help you find work and succeed in your employment.

What are my rights as an employee?

When navigating the working world, it’s important to know your rights as an employee. Firstly, the Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against you because you have a disability. Therefore, under the act, disabled people are protected from any discrimination across a range of work-related areas, including the application process, interview set-ups, dismissal or redundancy, aptitude or proficiency tests, as well as day-to-day life in the workplace. You can read more about all of the ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010, on the GOV.UK website here.

When it comes to the recruitment process, an employer recruiting staff is allowed to make limited enquiries about your disability or your health, but only for a specific purpose. Some examples of when this might be appropriate include when an employer might be trying to determine whether you’ll be able to carry out a task that’s an essential part of the job – or to help interviewers decide if reasonable adjustments need to be made for you in the selection process, or when you start work.

In terms of redundancy and retirement, it’s illegal for an employer to choose someone for redundancy just because they’re disabled. The redundancy selection process has to be fair and balanced among all employees. Similarly, your employer cannot make you retire if you become disabled.

If you’d like to read further into the law and your rights as an employee, you can visit the GOV.UK website here.

Similarly, for help determining if you are being unfairly treated, you can read about what counts as disability discrimination on the Citizens advice website. And for advice on what steps you can take, you might be interested in reading our article; What to do if you think you’re being discriminated against in the workplace.

What if I need reasonable adjustments made in the workplace?

Under the law, an employer must make reasonable adjustments to prevent anyone with a disability being put at a disadvantage to anyone else in the workplace. Reasonable adjustments can include anything from making physical adjustments in the workplace, like installing ramps for wheelchair users, allowing flexible hours for conditions that can cause drowsiness like epilepsy, and adjusting a recruitment process (for example by arranging interviews to be held on the ground floor to accommodate a candidate who uses a wheelchair). It’s important to have regular meetings scheduled with your employer where you can discuss and assess how well the adjustments are meeting your needs.

AbilityNet has also produced useful information and guidance for both employer and employee regarding reasonable adjustments and how to identify them.

If you’d like to read more about reasonable adjustments, or are seeking guidance on them, you might benefit from speaking to a Disability Employment Adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus office.

If the environment you need at work is not covered by the term ‘reasonable adjustments’, then you might be able to seek help from the Access to Work scheme. If you’re eligible, an Access to Work grant can be used to pay for special equipment and adaptations, communication and mental health support, as well as help travelling to and from work. It can also provide you with the money needed to have a communication support worker attend your job interview with you.

You will not have to pay the grant back and it will not affect any other benefits that you may currently receive. If you’re interested in getting help from Access to Work, you can find more information about eligibility and how to apply on the GOV.UK website here. It’s important to note that the Access to Work scheme is only available to those eligible who are in a paid position, or will either be starting or returning to one soon.

Where can I get help adjusting my workspace at home?

Remember that just because you’re working from home, your employer still has a responsibility under the Equality Act 2010 to provide you with reasonable adjustments you require to work. If you feel you require reasonable adjustments made for home-based working, then you should speak to your employer about arranging these. You can find out more about reasonable adjustments and your rights when working from home in this article: Protecting disabled people working from home.

UK charity AbilityNet helps disabled people thrive in the workplace. But with the pandemic forcing so many more people to work from home, there are new technology-based challenges. Amy Low from AbilityNet said: “People who weren’t confident with technology, and may have perhaps asked the person next to them for help, no longer have this option. It’s a steep learning curve.”

The nature of video calls can also be problematic for some people; for example, if you struggle with your hearing, then bad audio connections, or people switching off their cameras can present problems. AbilityNet is tackling these issues head on; offering a variety of services to help disabled people adjust to working from home, as well as helping employers make sure their workplace remains inclusive and accessible for everyone.

AbilityNet has worked with organisations to create new online meeting guidelines to help companies address some of the unintentional barriers that can arise as a result of homeworking. If you would like some help getting to grips with how to improve inclusivity among your employees, you can arrange to speak to one of AbilityNet’s experts here. Similarly, AbilityNet has also paired with The Clear Company to deliver the Clear Talents on Demand service. This is a free online tool that generates personalised reports identifying reasonable adjustments that could improve their working environment.

On the other hand, if you’d like help adjusting your own working environment at home, you might be interested in AbilityNet’s Working From Home  Review. Through this service, you can get a 30-minute online video session with AbilityNet’s professional workplace assessors, where you’ll discuss any issues you’re having that make it difficult to work from home. They will then suggest a range of solutions designed to improve your workspace – including suitable technology – to help you be as productive as you can in a remote environment. The review costs £99 plus VAT, and you can apply via a form online. If you’d like to learn more about the service or start an application, then you can find more information here.

Lastly, if you’re struggling to use your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, then you might find AbilityNet’s My Computer My Way service useful. My Computer My Way provides step-by-step guides to help you make individual adjustments to your digital devices, making them easier to use. The service specialises in adapting digital devices across four main categories; vision, hearing, motor, and cognitive. For example, if you struggle to read off your device, AbilityNet can help modify fonts, colours, or magnify the screen to help you. And if you’re looking for a specific adjustment but are unsure and which category it falls under, you can use the search bar on their website.

If you’re interested in any of AbilityNet’s services, you can find out more on their website, or by contacting them via email or through their helpline.

Where can I get career help and advice if I have a disability?

If you’re searching for a job and would like some career advice or training, help with improving your CV or preparing for interviews, there is support available.

  • The government Work and Health programme can help you find a job if you’re out of work. The programme is specifically tailored to each individual and can help with things like identifying your employment needs, by offering you training, and putting you in touch with employers. You can find out more on the GOV.uk website here.
  • The National Careers Service provides confidential and impartial advice to help you make decisions about training and work if you’re facing difficulties because of a disability or health condition. If you’d like help understanding your work rights, if you’re seeking support to reach your career goals, or if you’d like to find out about other types of help available, then you can visit the National Careers Service website here. If you give them a call you’ll be able to make an appointment with your local adviser.
  • A Disability Employment Adviser can advise you on your job search, skills and training, and government schemes available. They will also be able to point you towards disability-friendly employers in your area. If you’d like to speak to a Disability Employment Adviser, you can request a conversation by contacting your Jobcentre Plus.
  • Disability equality charity Scope offers a range of career advice and support services. Scope’s Support to Work: Employment Support programme is a free online and telephone support programme for disabled people in England and Wales who are looking for paid work. The programme offers advice from professional employment advisers and can help across a range of areas like developing confidence and job skills, reviewing your CV to match your employment goals, identifying your strengths, and holding mock interviews.

If you’d like more information first to see if the programme is right for you, you can contact Scope directly, or if you’d like to get started straight away, you can create a Scope account, which you can then use to register for the Support to Work programme. On the website, you’ll also find useful advice and tips for finding jobs.

If you’d like to read more about other resources regarding career advice, then you might find this article; Help to find work when you’re disabled useful.

Where to look for financial support if you’re disabled

There is a variety of financial support available if you have care needs, including benefits, tax credits, payments, and grants. The amount of income or savings that you have will not affect any disability benefits you receive that contribute to your personal care. It’s important to claim everything you’re entitled to, otherwise you could be paying more than you need to. Below are some examples of support that you might be able to claim.

Financial benefits, credits and allowances if you have a disability

Below are some of the benefits, credits and allowances you may be entitled to if you have a disability. You can find out more about these in our article Benefits if you have a health issue or disability.

Financial support for daily life and care if you have a disability

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults

Disability Living Allowance is available for adults with a long-term illness or disability. DLA is slowly being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you’ve reached State Pension age, you can apply for an Attendance Allowance instead.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment is a tax-free benefit available to people aged 16 and over who have not reached State Pension age. It’s intended to help with extra costs caused by long-term illness or disability. You can read more about PIP in this article; Personal Independence Payment – an introduction.

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit for those who are State Pension age or over, and need someone to help look after them because they have a disability.

Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Credit

Carer’s Allowance can provide extra money to help you look after someone who requires substantial care.

Carer’s Credit might be available to you if you’re caring for someone for 20 hours a week or more.

Industrial Injuries Benefit

If you became ill or are disabled as a result of an accident or disease either at work or on an approved employment training scheme, then you might be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Constant Attendance Allowance

If you receive Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or a War Disablement Pension, and you need daily care due to a disability, then you can claim Constant Attendance Allowance. There are four different weekly rates, and how much you will receive depends on the extent of your disability, and the care that you need.

Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance

If you’re on a low salary, you may be able to claim Universal Credit, which is a monthly payment issued to help with living costs. You can read more about how Universal Credit works in our article Everything you need to know about Universal Credit.

To determine which disability benefits you’ll be able to claim, you’ll need to carry out a work capability assessment. This assessment is used to find out whether or not a person can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit. The questionnaire section of the assessment will cover areas including your mobility, and your ability to learn tasks and cope with social situations. This is then followed by a medical assessment where a healthcare professional asks you questions based on your questionnaire answers. If you’d like to find out more, you can read all about the work capability assessment here.

Financial support for vehicles and transport if you have a disability

If you have a disability, you might be eligible for the following benefits to help pay for vehicle and transport costs.

Exemption from paying vehicle tax

If you’re disabled and have a vehicle registered in your name, you can apply for disability exemption from paying vehicle tax. You can claim this exemption when applying for vehicle tax, but if you’re claiming for the first time, you’ll need to do so at a Post Office. For more information on eligibility and how to claim exemption from paying vehicle tax, you can visit the GOV.uk website here.

Parking benefits

If you have a disability or health condition that affects your mobility, you can apply for a Blue Badge. A Blue Badge will allow you to park in Blue Badge holders spaces, and usually for free in areas such as on-street parking where there are pay-and-display machines, or in disabled parking bays for as long as you need. Councils can charge for Blue Badges, but you won’t be charged more than £10, and the badge will usually last up to 3 years.

If you’d like more information about Blue Badges, you might like to read our article The Blue Badge scheme explained, and find out how to apply and how to use your Blue Badge on the Citizen’s Advice website.

Save on your train journeys

If you have a disability, you could save one-third of the price of train travel with a Disabled Persons Railcard. With an average saving of £115 each year, the railcard usually pays for itself over three journeys. For example, a rail trip from Peterborough to London usually costing £21.60, would cost £14.25 with a Disabled Persons Railcard. To find out how much you could save, and for more information on eligibility, you can visit the Railcard website.

The Motability Scheme

If you’d like some help with buying or leasing a car, you might be interested in The Motability Scheme. Motability is a national charity with the aim of ensuring that no person is disadvantaged as a result of poor transportation access. The scheme allows individuals to lease a new car, scoot, or powered wheelchair without the responsibility of owning one and running it. If you’re interested in The Motability Scheme, you can read more information about how it works, eligibility, and how to apply here.

Financial support for home and housing if you have a disability

If you’ve been assessed by your local council and are eligible for care and support, you might be able to get:

  • Direct payments – which will allow you to buy in and arrange help and support yourself, rather than receiving it directly from social services. This allows you to have greater flexibility over how your care and support is arranged. You can find out more about direct payments here, including how they work, and how to apply.
  • If you’re disabled and need changes made to your home, you might be able to get a Disabled Facilities Grant from your local council. This grant will cover any necessary changes to your home including widening doors, installing ramps, and improving access to rooms and facilities.

Council Tax reductions and exemptions

If you’re receiving certain benefits like the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you could get a reduced Council Tax bill. The discount will vary depending on the rate and components of PIP you’re receiving, but your local council will be able to tell you how much you need to pay.

To claim a discounted Council Tax bill, you should contact your local council and let them know you’re receiving PIP.

On the other hand, if your home has been specially adapted to help you remain there you will not have to pay any extra council tax. And, if you move to a care home permanently and your previous home is unoccupied, then you are exempt from paying Council Tax. You can read more about Council Tax discounts for disabled people here.

Compensation if you acquired your disability serving in the armed forces

If you acquired an injury or illness – or an existing condition was made worse – while serving in the armed forces, you can claim armed forces compensation. You will receive the compensation either in a lump sum or through regular payments.

You can find out more about armed compensation works, eligibility, and how to claim on the GOV.UK website here.

Other disability benefits…

Television license discount: If you’re registered blind, have a severe sight impairment, or live with someone who is, then you are entitled to claim 50% off the cost of your TV license.

To claim this discount, you will need to present a certificate from your local authority or ophthalmologist declaring you are registered blind or have a severe sight impairment. If you’d like more information on eligibility and how to apply, you can visit the GOV.UK website here.

If you’d like to learn more about what benefits you may be able to claim, you might like to read this article; Benefits you can claim when you have care needs.

Dealing with the emotional impact of a disability

Physical disabilities and mental health struggles can often become intertwined. Living with a disability – whether physical or intellectual – can impact a person’s life across a range of areas. For instance, they might be fearful of experiencing things like discrimination or social isolation, or feel that they’ll struggle to find work as a result of their disability.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has highlighted the connection between physical disability and mental health, and produced this guide explaining the link. The emotional impact of disability can be huge. It might make you feel frustrated, hopeless, and maybe even angry at the world. So before we look at exploring some ways that can help you deal with these emotions, the first step to take is recognising your feelings and accepting that they are valid.

If you’ve recently developed a disability, it can be difficult to accept the loss of your former self, which, in turn, can trigger a range of emotions. It’s important to be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to mourn; just like losing anything in life, your body and mind needs time to grieve. And equally, if you were born with a disability and have lived with it your whole life, these feelings can still apply, as you may feel frustrated, and grieve over the thought of what could have been. Emotional healing is often a rollercoaster and is rarely linear, so – although difficult – it’s normal to feel up one minute, and down the next.

Bottling up our feelings can often make us feel lonely and overwhelmed, and so speaking to someone you trust, and who understands your situation, can be a good way of sharing the load of your emotions. Often, just talking through your feelings out loud with another person can provide a huge sense of relief. And if you’re looking to connect with other people, you might find some useful resources and ideas in this article; 6 ways to meet new people and find support if you’re disabled.

Similarly, immersing yourself in activities, and surrounding yourself with people who matter to you can help to provide you with a greater sense of purpose – and might help to distract you from the emotional impact of your disability. For example, organisations like Parasport believe that there’s a sport or activity for everyone, and they work to connect disabled people through local clubs and events. While their usual activities are unable to run during lockdown, they have worked to provide home workout routines, and other ways to get involved with exercise in the current climate. Or, if you’re unsure about where you might be able to find meaning in your life and would like some inspiration about where to start, you might like to read our article, 5 ways to find meaning and purpose in your life.

If however, you’re still struggling, and feel you need some help managing your emotions – whether it’s anxiety, stress, or depression – you might like to consider therapy. Talking to a therapist can help alter your mindset and arm you with techniques to help manage your emotions. If you’d like to read more about the types of talk therapy available, how they work, and how they could be beneficial to you, you might like to have a read of this article: Physical Disability and Mental Health – How Connected are They?

If you think that you’d benefit from talking therapy, then these can be accessed through the NHS; you can either be referred by your GP, or you can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT). Or, if you’re considering going private, you’ll find a collection of reliable websites that only list therapists who are registered with a professional body on the Mind website here.

Additional resources if you’re struggling

  • Samaritans – provide support including a free confidential helpline available 24 hours a day every day of the year, where you can talk through whatever you’re struggling with.
  • Bipolar UK – a charity that supports people who struggle with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Mental Health Foundation – provides guidance and support for those struggling with mental health issues or learning disabilities.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care – provides help and support for anyone struggling with feelings of grief or loss.
  • Mind – a mental health charity that offers information and support on topics such as depression and anxiety. They also offer guidance on practical tools to help if you’re in crisis.

If you’re in a crisis and need immediate help or need to speak to someone right now, you can read about what you should do here.

Final thoughts…

If you’re living with a disability, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to know where to seek help. But by knowing your rights, and understanding what you’re entitled to, you’ll be able to make the most of the support services and resources that are available, to help you lead the best quality life you can. And remember, it’s okay to struggle sometimes, life has its ups and downs. If you’re ever in doubt, just take one step at a time.

We hope you’ve found this guide useful. Is there anything else you’d like to see included here? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below – or, if you’d like to connect with other like-minded individuals, you can join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

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